Israel is a country in breach of almost all of its obligations under international law. Sanctions were the final blow to the apartheid regime in South Africa, and given the dependency of Israel upon global markets, sanctions at a state, regional or institutional level will be a highly effective measure to bring about real pressure.
Israel’s membership in or association with various diplomatic and economic forums, such as the United Nations, EU and OECD, provide an unwarranted veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. Free trade agreements with Israel play a key role in normalizing and whitewashing Israel’s crimes and in emboldening its impunity. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about Israel’s violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of international institutions and other states in these violations.
The principle problem of sanctions is that action rests on states and global institutions, many of whom have a long history of supporting or implementing colonialism and occupations in the Middle East. However more recently several states have engaged in measures that may be considered first steps towards sanctions. The decision by many OECD member countries to boycott an OECD tourism conference or recent efforts targeting Israel’s involvement in the European Union such as the recent call for sanctions from 26 ex-EU leaders are two recent examples.
There are three areas to which sanctions can be applied: military links, including partnerships, agreements and joint operations; economic links, including trade, co-operation, forums, agreements, and joint research initiatives; and diplomatic links, including relations on an official level, participation in international institutions, external forums and networks and meetings between state representatives.